Keep Your Cancer Off Facebook

I just posted about how Facebook banned a woman from posting pictures of her newborn son, and now here’s a story about Facebook banning a woman’s mastectomy photos. I’ve seen other inspirational photos of women who have battled breast cancer, so I’m not surprised that someone shared their photos on Facebook. Joanne Jackson from the UK had photos taken after her mastectomy, and chose to share them on Facebook. I love what she had to say about the photos: “I am not one who is shy but these pictures weren’t as much about me as about other women who had maybe just been diagnosed with breast cancer. It doesn’t have to be a death sentence and there is life after a mastectomy.”

Her photos were removed because Facebook considered them pornographic. I understand that there can be an argument about whether or not Ms Jackson is sharing pornographic photos. However, I had a friend comment that since Ms Jackson’s left breast (and the one shown) was removed, no breasts or nudity is shown, and thus these shouldn’t be considered pornographic. She is covering her right breast with her hand, but I’ve seen similar photos as well as pictures of people in bathing suits or lingerie where similar amounts of nudity are shown. I think that they are incredibly powerful, speaking as a woman, as someone who cares about breast cancer, and as a person whose family has had cases of breast cancer. I tend to shy away from photos clothed, let alone photos that show any scars (the most obvious ones are on one of my ankles and an inner arm, if you’re curious).

In our culture, we don’t tend to think of scars as beautiful. However, each scar truly does tell a story – for some people, that scar is from a mole being removed, for others it is from plastic surgery, and for others it may remind them of when their life was saved (amongst other stories). Ms Jackson was told by Facebook that they “welcomed some mastectomy pictures but that some images may breach regulations.” Where exactly do they draw the line? What makes the difference in her photos?

Regardless of the fact that Facebook banned the photos, I think that they are worth looking at (I didn’t include any of the pictures here in case someone viewing thinks that they are pornographic – so, people may consider the photos NSFW). I love that Ms Jackson doesn’t appear to shy away from the camera, she looks it straight on. Additionally, I think it’s fantastic that Ms Jackson looks happy (she has a beautiful smile!) in some of the pictures. She truly shows that life goes on, and as she says, you can still be yourself. I do wonder if Ms Jackson would have posed for similar photos before her mastectomy. I don’t know if I could pose for similar photos, mastectomy or not (I’m not very graceful in front of the camera and rather self-conscious), so I appreciate when there are women who are comfortable sharing this aspect of their life with the world.

Should these photos be banned? Do you think that they’re pornographic?

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About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.